Anti-Alistair: Darkspawn Chronicles Is Out

By Alec Meer on May 19th, 2010 at 1:38 am.

The next big chunk of Dragon Age DLC is now out, and (as John mentioned a couple of weeks back) it’s a devious little concept. It’s only a module rather than another Awakenings-size mega-chunk, but it’s a chance to step inside the festering skin of a Darkspawn hurlock and lay vicious siege to the puny human city of Denerim. The idea is ‘your’ Dragon Age hero didn’t survive the opening fight in the original DA, so it’s Darkspawn vs Alistair instead. Won’t end well for our boisterous, blonde-haired holy warrior, I suspect. If you complete it, you unlock a new item in the main DA/Awakenings campaign, which will presumably just pop magically into your inventory like so many of the other DLC items. Honestly, why must latter-day RPGs do that? It removes the striving and the triumph from finding or buying cool loot. Especially when the story is “your character was born an orphan and a pauper. Oh, apart from that impossibly priceless high-level Blood Dragon armour he happens to have in his bag.”

Yours for $5, anyway. Or ’400 Bioware points’, if you’re into the whole made-up proprietary currency thing.

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30 Comments »

  1. dancingcrab says:

    Now is BioWare/EA gonna come out with a DLC compilation disc? Because that’s what I’m waiting for.

    (That, and for some decent DLC.)

  2. Sprint says:

    Does this dlc add any lengthy codex entries or cut-scenes? It seems a shame to take a concept like this and reduce it purely to a few fights with silent companion mashing action.

    • bleeters says:

      @Sprint

      No, not really. After you encounter various iconic characters and run your sword through them, you get a brief codex log which explains how they got there, essentially to point out the differences in the storyline. That’s pretty much it, though. The cut scenes generally exist to show your hurlock grunting whilst the camera pans around to show you various objectives.

  3. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Ah, well. Don’t take me wrong: I lube Dragon Age. Best RPG for a few good years. Had lots of fun, bought the Expansion and all DLCs for the first game. But… that’s it. I had enough.

    Bioware kicks at making games (well sorta, but anyway) and sucks at making DLCs. I wanted to be fooled for the first game because I felt I should acquire the DLCs just to say thanks for the great game DA:O was. Not for the DLCs that essentially sucked.

    With the original, plus DLCs, plus the expansion, I think that’s thanks enough. If they want to more they’ll have to bend me over and I already have a sore back. I’ll refuse.

  4. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    If Alastair can become king without you, says alot for your “input” of that story arc.

  5. Vinraith says:

    The item is almost reason NOT to buy. I don’t want something high level and unbalanced popping into my inventory, I don’t want the urge to go out and find better loot to be undermined by automajically having the best item in the game at the start of the game. At some point along the line, stuff you used to have to do with cheat codes became an incentive for preordering or paying for DLC. Never having been a fan of cheating, I don’t see the point. Undoubtedly people that DID enjoy cheating are similarly irate that they have to pay for them now.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      After you download/install the DLC, the item addons are listed as separate DLC in the in-game browser which can be disabled like the other DLC.

    • bleeters says:

      Try having a lookie at stuff like this:

      http://www.dragonagenexus.com/downloads/file.php?id=200

      Essentially, it adds new items with identical stats as those available from pre-orders, but puts them on sale at the party camp rather than dumping them in your packs from the start.

    • Premium User Badge Lars Westergren says:

      @Vinraith

      I also dislike overpowered pre-order and DLC items, but I seem to recall that you could just right-click on items and select “destroy”?

  6. bleeters says:

    It’s fairly entertaining, as Dragon Age dlc goes. Which realistically means ‘not very, but at leats it’s not quite as tedious as Return To Ostagar’. You essentially stomp around the end-game Denerim setting, butchering your way through whatever you come across, which for the most part is generic rabble soldiers lead by recognisable names. Along the way, you recruit darkspawn out of the rampaging horde by shouting at them, and then later killing them to free up room for something more useful. Also, I killed Steve Blum, twice. That was satisfying.

    My most nagging criticism? It’s mostly a fighty-fighty-stab-stab affair, and the character you’re given is a sword-and-board warrior, with two attacks: shield bash and pummel. In short, it’s as if they went out of their way to present you with the most tiresome character to play possible. I spent more time controlling my emissary.

  7. ExplosiveCoot says:

    I really wish Bioware would do something of an “episodic-expansion” route with future DLC – by that I mean they would tell an expansion-length story in four or five bite-sized chunks, released monthly or bi-monthly (kind of like the Sam and Max adventure games.) This would have the money-making benefit of getting people to want to purchase all the DLC to see how the story comes out. Do it Bioware!

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      See? This is why I’m really, really scared of the future of PC gaming.
      Some actually want this nonsense. Get enough of them and…

      - One day you wake up and the industry introduced franchising
      - Another day you wake up and you now have DLCs
      - Another day another absurdity; they just invented Pay to Play.

    • bleeters says:

      Isn’t dlc just the bastard son of episodic content, though? I was under the impression it had already been largely abandoned.

    • ExplosiveCoot says:

      @ bleeters:

      It seems like not many developers really gave episodic content a shot. Outside of HL2 (whose episodes are really more traditional expansions than episodes) and the Telltale games (Sam and Max, Monkey Island, et. al.) has anyone really tried to do episodic content? I can’t think of anyone.

    • bleeters says:

      @ExplosiveCoot

      This is true. And I would like to see more dlc that slots together better, rather than either trying to piggy-back onto the main story, with mixed success. Episodic releases might work better in that regard.

      It’d be nice if they’d stop packing their dlc descriptions with spoilers too, but that’s just me being bitchy.

  8. ExplosiveCoot says:

    @ Mario:

    I don’t really understand your comment. By franchising do you mean sequels? If so those have been around since the dawn of PC gaming. DLC is certainly something new, but aren’t all games “Pay to Play”? Unless you’re a pirate, you’ve paid the purchase price of the game – $50 to $60 for a new game, or $30 – $40 for an expansion.

    What I am saying is that I would rather spend $7 / month for 5 months to buy parts of an “expansion” ($35 total; the average price of an expansion) than $7 / mo for a 5 self-contained stories.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      By franchising I mean… franchising :)

      Not so much the act of producing sequels, but more the attitude that some studios have since acquired, that games should only be produced which fit into a franchising model: capable of having constant sequels.

      A game which doesn’t fit into this model is simply discarded. Our loss.

  9. GT3000 says:

    American McGee’s Grimm.

  10. Nimic says:

    I loved Dragon Age for the epic scope and story. Not for it’s hacky-slashy sequences (though they weren’t too bad).

    I liked Awakenings, and got a few hours out of it (though far from as many as it said “on the box”, per usual), but I won’t be spending any money on DLC’s (let’s just call Awakening a small expansion. I’ve seen those before).

  11. MultiVaC says:

    Eh, I’m not really impressed with BioWare’s DLC offerings so far. For both Dragon Age and Mass Effect, the DLC is disappointing, especially considering the outstanding quality of the actual games. Ironically, Bethesda, the pioneers of Horse Armor, have given us much better DLC for Fallout 3 than any DLC BioWare has done. Operation Anchorage and Mothership Zeta were sort of bogus in execution and Broken Steel was a sort of “fix the game” addition, but The Pitt and especially Point Lookout hold the title of Best DLC Ever in my opinion. In price, gameplay hours, and new content, Fallout 3′s DLC completely owns BioWare’s DLC. For $7 I got a Mass Effect DLC that was about 3 hours long, had one new squad member (more like semi-squad member really) and one new weapon that my class couldn’t even use. Point Lookout was, what, $10? And that gave you a whole new open area with about 5 major quests, 3 or 4 new weapons, a few new perks, a shit load of new enemies, and (at least) around 10 hours of gameplay.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Agree, Bioware should take a page from Bethesda when it comes to DLC. I was also very impressed with the DLC for Borderlands, the General Knoxx armory campaign. Take what people like about the core game, expand on it FTW.

  12. TheSombreroKid says:

    every half assed piece of shit bioware squeeze out makes me more likley to buy the rest of the fallout dlc i didn’t buy because at the time i thought it wasn’t worth it lol, if only i’d known how bad it’d get.

  13. Premium User Badge Lars Westergren says:

    What DLC for Dragon Age I’d like to see: a story focused module, with a completely new character, with a plot not at all related to the darkspawn surge.

    For example:
    -A young thief in a big Orlesian city trying to survive internal power struggles in the thieves’ guild and simultaneous authority crackdown, sent on scouting and thieving missions.
    -An aging soldier turned bodyguard trying to prevent the family child she is in charge of from being assassinated in power struggles.
    -A quanri officer infiltrating foreign lands ahead of a conquering force.

    Doesn’t have to be long. Just basically anything but more bloody hack and slash darkspawn.

    • Ian says:

      wot ‘e sed.

      Stuff like that’d be interesting.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      I’ve been hoping for much the same. I’d be content with something like the New Adventures of Zavran in Attiva, anything like that has so much potential. I guess they just don’t want to make all the new assets though…

    • Choca says:

      I’d love to see you Qunari idea as a DLC. Sten made them sound like a pretty interesting people during the vanilla game, I hope we’ll get more first-hand insight on their way of life someday.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Have to say, Sten annoyed the shit out of me, I wish I’d left him in his cage, the big lummox. I actually threatened to blade the high-priestess in her own temple to get him released and the bigt stoic oaf wouldn’t tell me any of the juicy details of the family he murdered.

      Git.

      The further Chronicles of Zevran on the other hand would be awesome. Like Casanova but with more assassination. And dick.

    • Choca says:

      Heh, I hate Zevran ; on my first playtrough he annoyed me so fast when he ambushed my team that I murdered him without even giving him the time to explain what the hell he was trying to do.

      To each his own I guess.

  14. Ian says:

    I assume we’ll be getting some Walker-O-Thoughts on this soon?

  15. Choca says:

    As usual with Dragon Age DLC, this was pretty bland (combat, combat and more combat, the “hero” is boring as hell to play and doesn’t get XP so you can’t make him more interesting, no Sandal)

    I did get a kick out a pounding Alistair with the Ogre though.